Machine care · Offers

Keeping machines in tip top condition

The sewing machine is an invention of advanced engineering developed over several centuries and incorporating mechanisms of horizontal and vertical rotation to produce an accurate and regular stitch. From lockstitch, to buttonhole, decorative, embroidery and stretch stitches, the humble sewing machine is quite amazing. We pick up our sewing machines, thread them up and expect them to work… and mostly they do! But when they don’t it’s easy to assume that there is a fault when really all they need is a little TLC.

The mechanics of the sewing machine

It’s worth taking a moment to think about what’s going on under the fabric because it’s deceptively simple. There is an electric motor driving an upper shaft, which then drives the lower shaft and other mechanisms involved in forming a stitch. The ranges of motions are horizontal for the shafts but this is then translated into vertical motion for the stitch forming mechanism. In addition, gears will be driving the hook that links the top thread to the lower thread, plus shafts and cams (or sometimes belts or gears) making the feeder (moves the fabric along) synchronise with the stitch forming mechanism and hook. There may be additional parts driving the needle from side to side. There could also be a thread cutter mechanism. There is a lot of complex machinery involved in creating a simple stitch!

This animation from Threads Magazine gives a really clear idea of what’s going on when a stitch is formed:

An average domestic sewing machine creates stitches between 800 and 1200 times a minute (and industrial machines can be 5000 stitches per minute!) so there is quite a margin for things to go wrong. We all love our sewing machines, so let’s see how we can help them with a bit of TLC to keep them happy!

Back to basics

First of all, let’s quickly go over a couple of basics that you all probably know, but are easy to forget when your machine isn’t behaving as you would like.

  • You need a good needle – sharp, not bent, inserted correctly and of the correct type for the fabric and thread. A lot of problems can be caused by old or incorrect needles, so make sure you replace them regularly.
  • You also need a decent quality thread. Cheap or poor quality threads will shred more readily, causing breakages and lint to build up inside your machine.
  • The upper and lower threads need to be threaded correctly. Have a look at the threading guide in your machine’s user guide, you might be surprised to find a few useful tips in there. Make sure you floss your top thread through your tension disks and that your bobbin is positioned with the thread in the right direction.

Lint

Owing to the nature of fabric and thread, sewing machines get full of lint and fluff. Over time this compacts down and can almost form another layer over the metal parts. We have seen feed dogs so full of lint they cannot lift the feed teeth above the stitch plate and so much fluff inside the machine that a hamster could be living in there!

An example of lint build-up in a sewing machine

Different fabrics create different amounts of lint. As you might expect, anything with a nap will create more lint and fabrics like velvet and towelling can create a great deal very quickly. You can see just how much fluff can build up with regular use over time in the image above. The grey part you can see to the right with the coloured wires coming out of it is the motor, which can heat up as the machine is being used. With a big enough build-up of lint, the heat from the motor can actually ignite the lint.

Both upper and lower threads are controlled by tension devices. Thread or lint can stick between the two tension disks or under the bobbin case tension spring. The tension device on more modern machines can be concealed into the front of the machine, but just follow the threading path to find them – they are normally near the adjusting dial.

To clean between the tension disks, raise the presser foot to open the disks and drag a non-linty piece of fabric (e.g. calico or quilter’s cotton) or a blunt needle end between the disks.

To clean under the bobbin case spring, gently run a needle between the spring and the body of the bobbin case.

If you want to learn more about tension and how to adjust it, take a look at my post from September 2021, Tension caused by tension.

Please do not remove any covers around the tension device that are not mentioned in the instruction manual as being removable. Leave that to trained service technicians!

Wear and tear

All the surfaces that the threads pass over need to be smooth and undamaged by needles or wear and tear.  Any of the stitch forming parts (thread paths, presser foot, needle plate, and shuttle hook or bobbin case) can become worn or damaged by usage, but they can be cleaned up to a point with a bit of fine emery.

Damage to a needleplate which would cause stitching issues

So, a bit of cleaning (and on some machines a drop of oil – but please check your manual before oiling your machine as some, especially computerised machines, do not require oiling), can go a long way! Have a look at our YouTube Channel for some help with this, your instruction manual will have some information too.

It’s worth cleaning your machine out regularly to prevent build-up and compaction of lint. You can use the pipe attachment on your vacuum cleaner, after removing any loose items of the machine that might disappear up it first of course! It is advisable to wear a dust mask as well as glasses or safety glasses to protect your eyes.

Safety warning: Please turn off the power to the machine and remove the needle before doing anything. A dust mask and safety glasses are also strongly recommended.

Getting a service

Even with a regular cleanout at home, every 1-2 years (dependent on usage) it’s a good idea to have your machine professionally serviced and set back to the manufacturer’s specifications. This will ensure that all the stitch forming parts are polished to allow the thread to flow over them freely, that all the mechanisms and timings are correctly set up so they work together correctly, and that the tensions and reverse stitches/buttonholes are correctly balanced. It will also include a check of the electrics for safety and condition, as well as a PAT test. You should get a service report with the machine, giving a list of checks performed, and pointing out any advisories.

Special service offer

If your sewing machine or overlocker is in need of a service, why not take advantage of our current special offer and get at least 10% off the regular price? If you have more than one machine serviced at the same time then the discount is even bigger, so why not get together with friends and save?! All you need to do is quote voucher code Sew22 when you book your service. If you can’t get your machine to us then don’t worry, we can help with collection and delivery too. Please see our service page for more information.

The more machines you get serviced, the more you save! Simply quote voucher code Sew22 when you book.

Hopefully this will help you to keep your machine in tip top condition, ready to serve you on projects old and new! Happy stitching!

Accessories and feet · Embroidery machines · Offers · Sewing Machines

Designer Ruby 90 special offer – FREE Ribbon Attachment and Multi Function Foot Control worth over £500

The Ruby 90 sewing and embroidery machine is on offer from 1st October to 31st December 2021!

We have a great special offer on the Designer Ruby 90 starting today (1st October) for the rest of 2021 – when you purchase a new Ruby 90 you get the Ribbon Embroidery Attachment (worth £299) and the Multi Function Foot Control (worth £249) absolutely free. That’s £548 worth of savings! Read on to learn more about the Ruby 90 and these brilliant accessories.

Designer Ruby™ 90

The Designer Ruby 90 is the latest model of sewing and embroidery machine from Husqvarna Viking. It has a generous sewing and embroidery area, allowing you to handle even the largest projects with ease, while its large touch screen lets you easily navigate on-screen using touch gestures like swipe, pinch, and spread. It is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to wirelessly download updates, connect to the mySewnet Cloud to download designs as well as view the mySewnet blog for free designs, projects and inspiration – all of this from the tablet-like touch screen of the Ruby 90. With 800 built-in stitches and techniques and more than 650 built-in embroidery designs, the possibilities are endless!

The Exclusive Sensor System gives even feeding as you sew with continuous sensing and automatic adjusting for any fabric thickness, while the deLuxe™ Stitch System gives the perfect thread feed no matter the thread or the fabric used. The Designer Ruby 90 has so many great features that it would take a whole post of its own to cover them all but you can read all about it on our website here and, as always at Coles, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Why trade up to the Designer Ruby™ 90?

The great thing about the Ruby 90 is that it is compatible with all of the Epic accessories and attachments, so you can trade up from the Original Epic without having to replace any additional accessories you have purchased. The touch screen on the Ruby 90 is also brighter and easier to read, while the LED lights are adjustable. This lets you reduce the brightness to reduce glare when sewing white-on-white, or increase the brightness to better see your stitching when sewing dark-on dark. And don’t forget that the Ruby 90 comes with a full 5 year, no quibble warranty that gives you peace of mind.

Take a tour of the Designer Ruby 90 with Louise from Husqvarna Viking UK
Ribbon Embroidery Attachment

Adding ribbon to your embroidery has never been easier with the innovative Ribbon Embroidery Attachment. This amazing accessory accurately and easily places ribbon in any direction to create beautiful embroideries. It holds up to 25ft (8m) of ribbon and works with ribbon from 1/4” (6mm) to 5/8” (16mm), but it can work with ribbon as narrow as 1/8” (3mm). Plus, if you have the mySewnet software, you can stitch out one of the provided Ribbon SuperDesigns or even design your own ribbon embroideries.

See the Ribbon Embroidery Attachment in action with this video from Husqvarna Viking
Multi Function Foot Control

The Multi Function Foot Control frees up your hands by allowing you to select a function without taking your hands off your sewing project. It has three fully customisable function switches (two side levers and one heel touch button) that you can assign to your desired function, including presser foot lift, scissors, reverse, tie off and pattern begin/restart. With these functions taken care of hands-free, you have full control of your stitching with both hands from beginning to end.

See the Multi Function Foot Control in action with this video from Husqvarna Viking
Take advantage of this special offer

If you’re interested in the Designer Ruby 90 and would like to take advantage of this special offer then you can buy online here. If you would like a demonstration, you can arrange one at a time to suit you by calling the shop on (0115) 9881550. We offer interest free finance with just a 10% deposit (subject to approval by our finance partner Hitachi Capital) or better yet, trade in your old machine and use it as a deposit! Just give as a call to find out how much your old machine could be worth when you trade it in.